Sweet ReMarks: Getting to Know Your Custards, Part 2

by | Desserts, In the Kitchen, Recipes

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a series called Getting to Know Your Custards. You can read Part 1 here. — Hanna Schoenrock, Managing Editor

Refreshing Custards

Here we are at Part 2 of Getting to Know Your Custards.. We are going to review the differences and recipes for Pastry Cream, Creme Legere, and Diplomat Cream. I think it’s important to acknowledge Chantilly Cream as well — even though it is not a true custard — but it does play a helping hand in some of the custard recipes. Plus, who doesn’t want to know how to make Chantilly Cream?! It’s good enough on its own.

The fabulous thing about these custards is that they are versatile, not too difficult to make, and the final product will be impressive. And impressing your friends and family at dessert time is really what dessert should be all about!  Fancy without the fuss.

So let’s dive right in to the next chapter of our custards!

The art of Pastry Cream — or in French, Crème Pâtissière

Pastry Cream is made with whole milk that is brought to a boil. Sugar and thickener are mixed together in one bowl. The egg yolks are tempered with the hot milk in another bowl. This hot yolk mixture is slowly poured into the dry ingredients until a thick mixture is formed. Then, the yolk mixture is added all at once to the boiling milk while whisking vigorously. It will thicken immediately. Continue whisking while it boils for one minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in unsalted butter. At this point, if you want Chocolate Pastry Cream, you can add a handful of chocolate and stir until melted.

Pour Pastry Cream onto a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 2 hours. Then paddle in your KitchenAid to bring it back to a smooth consistency.

Pastry Cream is used for Napoleons, Eclairs, Cream Puffs, fillings for cake, layered parfaits, or simply in a dish with fruit and Chantilly Cream. It’s creamy, not too heavy, and easy to flavor.

Flavor options for Pastry Cream

  • Try adding Grand Marnier and fresh orange zest to it.
  • Or add instant coffee crystals to create a Coffee Pastry Cream.
  • Stir in Nutella or peanut butter for a fabulous treat!
  • Top Chocolate Pastry Cream with toasted marshmallows and serve with graham crackers for a S’mores Delight!

The combinations are endless. Be creative and have fun with it!

Crème Legere

Creme Legere is two parts pastry cream with one part Chantilly Cream folded into it. This delight is light, fluffy, and oh so delicious. I use this to fill my Pavlovas and in my strawberry shortcakes. I can eat this all by itself or simply with a bowl of freshly grilled peaches.

Diplomat Cream

Diplomat Cream is almost the same as Creme Legere except it is set with gelatin. Generally speaking, five sheets of gelatin are added per quart of Pastry Cream when hot. Once cool, it is stirred smooth, and the Chantilly is folded in. Perfect for pies!

Recipes: Chantilly Cream and Pastry Cream (by Keli Marks of Bakery 28)

Chantilly Cream


Heavy Whipping Cream  2 Cups

Granulated Sugar              ½ Cup

Vanilla Extract                   1 Teaspoon

  • Pour 2 Cups heavy whipping cream into a KitchenAid bowl fitted with a whisk.
  • Turn on Medium speed and gradually add ½ Cup sugar and 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Whisk until stiff peak form.
  • Serve with fresh fruit, strawberry shortcake, on top of pies, or folded into pastry cream.

Pastry Cream


Granulated Sugar  ⅔ Cup plus 1 ExtraTablespoon

Corn Starch             3 Tablespoons

Egg Yolks                  5 Yolks

Vanilla Extract         1 Teaspoon

Whole Milk               2 Cups

Unsalted Butter        2 ½ Tablespoons

  • Whisk sugar and cornstarch together; set aside.
  • Whisk egg yolks and vanilla extract together; set aside.
  • Put milk into a 2 quart sauce pot over high heat. Sprinkle in the extra Tablespoon of granulated sugar. This will help prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add a ladle of hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Stir.
  • Slowly whisk this mixture into the sugar and cornstarch until it mixes into a smooth mixture.
  • Once the hot milk comes to a boil, immediately pour in the yolk mixture and begin whisking vigorously. Whisk for one minute; remove from heat.
  • Pour onto a plastic lined sheet pan. Then lay plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill for at least 2 hours.

Bon appetit!

Click here to see more of Keli Marks’ creations & recipes

Pastry Chef Keli Marks

Pastry Chef Keli Marks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She received a full year education at the French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in exchange for being the very first assistant to Jacquy Pfeiffer & Sebastien Canonne, MOF when they opened the school in 1996.

Keli has been on the Food Network on three separate occasions: Sugar Rush, Romance Novel Cake Challenge and The Holiday Baking Championships. In addition, she was on the Chicago chapter’s board for Les Dames d’Escoffier from 2009 – 2011 and was a guest pastry chef at the famed James Beard House in NYC in 2013.

As the pastry chef owner of Bakery 28, she incorporates local ingredients from farmers within the Carolinas and promises to only use natural ingredients.

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